The 21st African Athletics Championship in Asaba, gave majority of Team Nigeria athletes the opportunity to not just prove themselves and proudly don the country’s colours, but also win their first African title and individual medal for the country.
At the end of the five-day championship, Team Nigeria finished 3rd overall on the medals table, amassing a total of 19 medals (9 Gold, 5 Silver and 5 Bronze medals), behind winners Kenya and second place finishers, South Africa.
With over 90% of the Nigerian team making their debut appearance, it cannot be far-fetched to write a few records were set and history made, especially by the Gold medallists after their momentous feat.
For these reasons, we’ve put together in this article the outstanding facts, records and history made by Nigerian Gold medallists for your reading pleasure.
Her first outing donning the country’s colours was the 20th edition of the continental showpiece in Durban, South Africa two years ago, where she won two Bronze medals in the Shot Put and Discus events.
Moving on, the trained Mechanical Engineer working for one of the biggest corporate companies in US, trained herself (without a coach) to win the Discus GOLD in Asaba, throwing a Personal Record of 58.09m.
Her performance ensured Nigeria has successfully won the event for the fourth time since 2012.
In an event usually dominated by the South Africans, Kelechi Nwanaga is steadily making a name for herself in African Javelin.
The Nigerian record holder produced one of her finest performances this season, throwing 56.96m to win her first African title and Nigeria’s first in the event since 1989.
In addition to this, she’s also the reigning African Games Champion, presently making her one of few athletes to have two different continental titles in their name.
The quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Blessing Okagbare, Tobi Amusan and Rosemary Chukwuma, produced one of the best moments in Asaba when they brilliantly won the 4x100m Gold clocking 43.77secs.
Interestingly this same quartet were Commonwealth Silver medallists in Australia. However, what’s most intriguing about the team that has made fans appreciate more their medal winning performances is the age bracket of the trio (Udo-Gabriel, Amusan and Chukwuma).
Udo-Gabriel is just 19-yrs and won the individual 100m Bronze medal. Amusan, specialises in the sprint hurdles, has won several titles in the event at just age 21. Finally Chukwuma, the youngest of the team who’s just 17 anchored the team to victory, shaking off a strong challenge from Africa’s current fastest woman, Marie-Josee Ta Lou.
This means Okagbare is the most experienced member and whenever she decides to hang her spikes, Nigeria can be confident in having three solid youngsters to pick up her mantle at the world level.
The Commonwealth Silver medallist set several records, re-wrote many facts and put his name in history books after his momentous feat of winning the Shot Put Gold medal.
- His winning throw of 21.08m, is a new Championship Record (CR).
- He was Nigeria’s only individual Gold medallist in Asaba.
- He’s the first Nigerian in history to win Shot Put Commonwealth medal & African title in the same year.
- He’s the second Nigerian in history to win the African title in the event, after Chima Ugwu did it in year 1992 & 2000.
- He’s the second thrower in Nigeria Athletics history to have consistently thrown above the 21m mark in the same year, after National Record holder Stephen Mozia.
To win the African title is special, but being the first person from your country to be crowned the African Champion in your event, is one that cannot be erased forever.
Anigbata was dropped from Team Nigeria’s contingents to the Commonwealth Games in Australia, but she put this disappointment aside by becoming a major surprise Gold medallist for Nigeria in Asaba, doing so in an historical way on her first senior international outing.
She leapt to a Personal Record (PR) of 14.02m, to be crowned Nigeria’s first women’s Triple Jump Champion in history of the African Championships.
The 2014 Commonwealth Champion equalled her Personal Best of 6.83m, to win her third successive African title in the Long Jump (2014, 2016 & 2018).
Doing this, she put her name in history books as the first female jumper ever to be crowned African Champion in the event on her three consecutive outings, thereby sealing her place as one of the best the Continent has produced in the event.
The 21yr old hurdler enjoys the privilege of being one of the few athletes in African athletics history, to have won a medal at all age levels of the CAA African Championships.
- 2013 African Youth Silver medallist in the 200m
- 2015 African Junior Champion in the 100mH
- 2018 African Senior Champion in the 100mH
In addition to this, she’s also the reigning 100mH Commonwealth and African Games Champion. Her victory in Asaba, currently seals her spot as Nigeria’s second best hurdler in history and one of the best showcased outside the continent.
Nathaniel’s consistency in the past one year finally paid off in Asaba, when she won her first individual international senior Gold medal for Nigeria.
She outclassed the 400m Hurdles field in 55.53s to be crowned the African Champion, defeating defending Champion, Theron Wenda Nel of South Africa; thereby ending the country’s dominance in the event since 2012.
Team Nigeria dominated this event in the Continent since 2008, until a Caster Semenya inspired South African team stopped this dominance in 2016 in their home country.
Nigeria securing the win back in a dominating style on the final day of the Championship, repositions their place back as the best quarter-mile nation in the Continent.